AS the year 2019 drew to an end the figures that emerged, depicting the standing of our healthcare system in the world ought to embarrass our leaders if they are still capable of being embarrassed.
The 2018 edition of the Healthcare Access Quality Index, HAQ, which measures personal healthcare quality and access in 195 countries and territories worldwide ranked Nigeria as the 187th out of 195 entities.
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Also, the World Health Organisation, WHO’s, data on life expectancy of newly-born babies given the constancy in death rate ranked Nigeria 178th out of 192, while life expectancy among Nigerians was 55 years, which is below the average among the more prominent countries in Africa such as Rwanda (68 years), South Africa (64.6 years), Egypt (70.5 years) and Kenya (66.7 years).
Life expectancy in Nigeria is below the overall African continental average of 62.5 years.
One does not have to look far to see why these figures, which are just the tips of the proverbial iceberg of our general healthcare rating in the world, are justified.
The number of Nigerians dying avoidably due to misdiagnosis, lack of modern medical equipment, lack of adequate healthcare facilities and paucity of well-trained and motivated healthcare professionals is mind-boggling.
Majority of the medical doctors graduating from our universities are drifting abroad for better career fulfilment.
Rather than sit down and address the problems of our healthcare system entrusted to them by Nigerian voters, our leaders have for long-established a worldwide notoriety for their frequent medical trips abroad at public expense.
Shockingly enough, even the State House Clinic, Abuja, which is supposed to treat our leaders and their families, has been abandoned in preference for medical trips abroad.
In August 2016, wife of the President, Hajiya Aisha Buhari raised the alarm on the dilapidation of the clinic. In spite of the N3.87bn budgeted for it in 2016, which was N787 million more than the amount budgeted for the 16 Federal Government-owned teaching hospitals, the clinic lacked basic equipment such as syringes and anti-malaria drugs!
The rot in our healthcare exists at all levels: primary, secondary and tertiary, which means that the Federal, state and local governments are all guilty of failing to provide adequate medicare for the people. Nigerian leaders have no regard for the people who vote them into power. This is evident in the neglect of the funding and administration of the social sector, especially health and education.
And this is why doctors and lecturers are frequently on strike in Nigeria.
We need leaders who will go beyond the selfish and corrupt comfort that their direct access to the public till affords them; leaders who will sit down and design a system that will benefit the people the way it is done in those countries they rush to for treatment.